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William Maley

Interactive Review: 2013 Mazda CX-5 Touring

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William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

August 24, 2012

This is a momentous occasion here in the Cheers & Gears Detroit Garage. For one, we welcome another new brand into fold. Also, its our first 2013 model year vehicle. Please welcome the 2013 Mazda CX-5 crossover.

(I had a brief drive in a CX-5 back in May at the MAMA Spring Rally. You can check out my thoughts on it by clicking here.)

This CX-5 is the mid-level Touring FWD model which starts at $23,895. That nets you a 2.0L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder producing 155 HP and 150 lb-ft of torque and a six-speed automatic. Other standard equipment includes seventeen-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, a 5.8-inch touchscreen for infotainment, six-way power seat for the driver, Bluetooth, and blind spot monitoring.

This car is fitted with two option packages. The Moonroof/Bose package adds a moonroof and a nine-speaker bose sound system. The technology package adds navigation, HID headlights, rain sensing wipers, and a few other items. That gives our CX-5 Touring a as-tested price of $27,005 (Includes a $795 destination charge).

First impressions are these

  • CX-5's 2.0L needs more power on the low end. Really don't like that I have to go above 2500 to 3000 RPMs to really get moving.
  • Fuel economy is really good so far. 27 to 28 MPG is the average.
  • If there is someone who can make a CUV fun to drive, that someone is Mazda

I'll have more updates as the week with the CX-5 goes on, including how it fares when I take it on vacation. In the meantime, if you have questions, post them and I'll do my best to answer them.

Update 1: I just finished up a 200 mile trip to Northern Michigan for vacation and to see some relatives of mine. The trip also revealed some of the CX-5's high and low points.

  • The CX-5's seats are great for enthusiastic driving and short trips. However for long trips, you will be wishing for more comfort.
  • Noticed the driver's side view mirror was vibrating while on the freeway, passenger's side wasn't. Somewhat worry some on a 6,000 mile example.
  • EPA rates the CX-5 on the Highway with 32 MPG for the front-wheel drive model. On my drive, I exceeded that by a good amount. When I arrived at my destination, my average was 37.8 MPG.
  • Wind and Road noise isolation is good, whether on the highway or in the city

I'll have some more updates later on in the week. If you got questions, don't hesitate to ask them.

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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So big first question:

Explain what the Hell SkyActive Technology is? Been to their web site and I still have nothing to grasp when I hear the term.

What is it and why should I car?

Second question, are there any other engine options, this engine seems very under powered for moving this meaty CUV.

What is the comfort level of the seats? They look hard and flat, do they support you in aggressive driving?

Over all impression of fit and finish?

How about road noise when cruising versus around town driving?

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So big first question:

Explain what the Hell SkyActive Technology is? Been to their web site and I still have nothing to grasp when I hear the term.

What is it and why should I care?

So SkyActiv is Mazda's umbrella name for all of technologies and weight-loss that is/will be appearing in their vehicles.

Two of the well known bits are the SkyActiv-G engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

The SkyActiv-G 2.0L four-cylinder engine utilizes direct-injection, a 4-2-1 exhaust manifold that allows the engine to have a compression ratio of 13:1* (*Note: Mazda3 SkyActiv only has a 12:1 compression ratio due to it not having the special exhaust manifold), and a unique piston design. This allows the engine to burn gas more efficiently.

The six-speed automatic uses a torque converter at low speeds to get you off smoothly before switching to a clutch pack to provide lightning-quick shifts that rivals dual-clutch transmissions.

These two pieces play a big role increasing fuel economy while retaining the fun that Mazda has been known for.

Now, the CX-5 comes with the added benefit of being built from the ground-up with SkyActiv in mind. Part of the SkyActiv mission is to produce lighter vehicles. Compared to the outgoing CX-7, the CX-5 can weigh between 220 to 500 lbs less varying on equipment levels. That's due to Mazda using lighter materials and downsizing certain pieces of equipment, while making the vehicle stronger.

Why should you care? Mazda is bucking the trend of having vehicles get heavier and resorting to hybrids and other fuel-saving tricks. Instead, Mazda is looking how to make the regular gas engine (and soon diesel) more efficient and making the vehicle much lighter while retaining the strength of heavier vehicles.

Hopefully this explains

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I agree wholeheartedly with the SkyActiv philosophy, in that a lighter vehicle and the latest ICE efficiency tweaks are what we need to bring us forward... no other propulsion system is needed. Now, about that diesel CX-5...

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Even if the Diesel does not come soon, this is one of the coolest small SUV's on the marked. IIRC it just won a Car and Driver test.

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from a branding and PR perspective, the term skyactiv is a great campaign to put a name on what is basically solid engineering.

i hope one of these days to get out and test drive an MT CX-5

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is it as slow as everyone says?

Yes. The CX-5 needs more punch in low-end torque.

does it get better than CUV avg. mpg?

Oh yes. The first day I drove it around I got 29 MPG. Even more shocking was the highway number I got out of it.. I talk about that in the update tomorrow.

is the dash too plain?

Yeah. I kind of wish Mazda would be a little more daring with the CX-5's interior. Otherwise, its pretty well put together.

Second question, are there any other engine options, this engine seems very under powered for moving this meaty CUV.

There is a SkyActiv diesel that Mazda says will be coming to the U.S. Coming to the CX-5, no one quite knows at the moment.

Also, rumor has it a 2.5L SkyActiv four will be on the options list for 2014.

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Does it Zoom Zoom?

I would expect this to have some of the sportiest steering in the segment

Yes.. The CX-5's suspension and steering is what you expect of Mazda; Sporty and fun.

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How is the build quality? Any glaring spots on fit and finish?

Some of the dash material did not look worthy at the NAIAS.

Is packaging and storage well designed and innovative?

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Does it Zoom Zoom?

I would expect this to have some of the sportiest steering in the segment

Yes.. The CX-5's suspension and steering is what you expect of Mazda; Sporty and fun.

Mazda's have rarely, if ever, been about being the fastest in a straight line. They've never much concerned themselves with 0-60 times. The Miata is considered one of the most sporty and fun cars you can get, yet in 0-60, even a Buick Lacrosse V6 is about a full second faster. I'm not sure the CX-5's relatively slow getup and go is an issue.

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How is the build quality? Any glaring spots on fit and finish?

Some of the dash material did not look worthy at the NAIAS.

Is packaging and storage well designed and innovative?

Besides the vibrating driver's side-view mirror, fit and finish is very good.

I don't think any of the dash material isn't worthy, its average. I kind of wish Mazda would be a bit more daring, go off the deep end with your interiors.

Well designed? Yes. Innovative? umm, no.

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Does it Zoom Zoom?

I would expect this to have some of the sportiest steering in the segment

Yes.. The CX-5's suspension and steering is what you expect of Mazda; Sporty and fun.

Mazda's have rarely, if ever, been about being the fastest in a straight line. They've never much concerned themselves with 0-60 times. The Miata is considered one of the most sporty and fun cars you can get, yet in 0-60, even a Buick Lacrosse V6 is about a full second faster. I'm not sure the CX-5's relatively slow getup and go is an issue.

I agree with that. I just kind of wish the low-end torque was a little bit lower in the RPM band.. All I'm asking. Otherwise, I like the 2.0L.

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The 2.0 will probably feel right at home as the base motor in the lower and lighter ~3000lb 2013 Mazda6.

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